Does team chemistry matter?

by

Team chemistry is thought of as some unknown quality. Good teams have it, bad teams don’t. For some it’s an enhancement. And others, it’s an excuse.

But how important is it, really? Do we over-blow the importance of chemistry because there’s no number behind it, and most claims can’t be totally refuted?

Writing for Wired, former NHL defenseman Bret Hedican explained the importance of team chemistry to winning the Stanley Cup.

What happens typically, before the season begins, is a meeting with all the players, staff and coaches the day before training camp begins. It’s usually conducted by the team’s general manager — the architect of that particular team. During the meeting, he’ll instruct everyone in the room that this is The Year, and that he has hand picked every guy in that room to do the job.

Although every team’s GM will say something to that effect, it’s only a handful of teams that will have the proper ingredients to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. What are those ingredients? Sometimes it can be an elusive mixture, and most successful teams I played on excelled in all the usual basics: Coaching, on-ice leadership, veterans, systemic accountability, four quality lines, defense and goaltending.

But if winning teams have all those ingredients, then what separates the winners from the losers? That’s where chemistry comes in.

Really, that’s the most mysterious ingredient to put a finger on. If you knew how to manufacture team chemistry, you would bottle it and quit your job in a second. For a glimpse of what real chemistry can do, look back to last season’s Eastern Conference champion and Stanley Cup runner-up Philadelphia Flyers, who came from the brink of missing the playoffs to losing in overtime of Game 6 of the finals, a lone game away from every player’s boyhood dream.

But considering how the Flyers started off the season, to even be that close to hockey’s ultimate prize was once inconceivable. Philadelphia had high expectations when October 2009 rolled around, and after a number of players underperformed from the season’s start, the Flyers decided to make a coaching change.

They brought in Peter Laviolette, who coached the 2006 Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes as well as the ’06 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Turin, Italy. He was hired after the Flyers had just lost six of seven games and stood at ninth place in the Eastern Conference with a 13-11-1 record.

It didn’t get much better for Laviolette’s first 10 games as Flyers coach, posting a 2-7-1 record. So what triggered his team’s turnaround? Certainly, there were several factors involved, but what made the difference was Laviolette’s implementation of players’ respect for one another, because it’s only once you have that respect that the chemistry follows.

How did he do this? Well, I first want to look back at 2006, when Laviolette coached me to my only Stanley Cup championship. Before that season, in the fall of 2005, he took all of us as far away from a hockey rink as could be. We found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, climbing trees and dangling from a ropes course, helping our teammates navigate from the bottom of these trees and from one side to the other.

We weren’t only conquering our fears of heights, but also any inhibitions and communication issues that perhaps hadn’t boiled to the surface yet. It seemed that, after that day, we all realized the respect we shared for one another, that we were united in a common goal. But also that we were more alike than we realized. We all had fear, and we all had to communicate and trust each other.

With a Stanley Cup title on his résumé, Laviolette knew that he would command the Flyers’ respect, but he still had to find out if his players really knew each other. Did they have respect for one another?

It was a rope that certain players had to follow, and it led right to his office door to answer some basic questions. He began with the leaders of the team and asked them things like What’s your defensive partner’s wife’s name? or What is your winger’s girlfriend’s name? How many kids does so-and-so have? was another popular one. What he realized is that nobody really knew each other. And no matter the field, whether it’s sport or business or whatever, you can’t succeed if you don’t know who’s on your team.

To which I agree with, you can’t succeed if you don’t know who’s on your team. But maybe it’s not that important. Maybe your chemistry is good because the team is winning. Maybe it’s bad because it isn’t. There’s a possibility that one night out on the town for a losing team could break them out of a slump, but is it really a missing ingredient for a title?

I decided to ask San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s opinion on the matter, because I’m a brave soul and all.

“Well, teams that get along, that respect each other, enjoy being around each other and enjoy time with each other probably react better on the court,” Coach Pop said before the Spurs’ 122-109 win over the Pacers. “They don’t have to be best buddies, they don’t have to go to meetings together — for whatever meeting they’re interested in — but if they can respect each other and enjoy each other’s time away from the court, I think that is something that aids them once the game starts.”

That’s the thing that strikes me about the Spurs this year. There feels like a mutual respect between everyone on this team. George Hill has to high-five every player and coach immediately after the lineups are announced and people begin taking their seats. The starters huddle together right before tip-off; the bench does the same and participates in some sort of push-and-tug game with their hands in the huddle (it’s hard to explain, but they seem to enjoy it).

There’s a playfulness about them, probably stemming from the infusion of younger players on the team. Hill and Matt Bonner, two players who on the surface have little in common, can be found picking on each other in the locker room and during warm-ups. DeJuan Blair is, well, he’s DeJuan Blair.

And all the while, the Spurs get the job done. They know why they’re there and that they have a task at hand. The team is both business-like and relaxed, which is actually the same way you can describe both Coach Pop and Tim Duncan. For San Antonio, they take on the personality of their leader(s).

So maybe Hedican is on to something. Chemistry may not be the make-or-break detail his Wired story makes it out to be, but it’s another important variable for a winning team. One that starts from the top-down.

  • Pop-a-vich

    No Chemistry, No CHAMPIONSHIP.

    That’s the reason why the Spurs are very consistent. That’s the reason why they have 4 titles. That’s the reason why they are gonna win it all this year.

    DRIVE FOR FIVE!!!
    Go Spurs Go!

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Does team chemistry matter? | 48 Minutes of Hell -- Topsy.com

  • zainn

    The chemistry of the big three has been consistently improving every year and our chemistry and talent will define why we are in fact better than the lakers. it will show on december 28th, i will be in the stands, waiting to see our triumph. and im too anxious for tiago to play!

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    Zainn, here here! The Spurs have the intangibles this time and just the right injection of youth to bounce the Lakers, leaving Kobe and Fish on the bench crying at the end! GO SPURS GO, DRIVE FOR FIVE!!!!!

  • bduran

    I like what Pop said. It’s seems to me that bad chemistry is something to avoid more than good chemistry is something to be sought after. The most important thing is to have good players. However, if they can’t get along then there will be issues. However, these guys are competitors and like basketball. As long as there is an minimum amount of mutual respect I would think that they would give 100%. I don’t think that “great chemistry” really makes players better.

  • NL

    Chemistry can take on different meanings, too. Part of having good chemistry is understanding your role on the team and Pop is one of the best at make sure each player understand that. You don’t have players playing outside of their capabilities and you create an atmosphere full of humility and unselfishness, maybe at times too much unselfishness. It’s a culture that once enough people buy in, the whole team has to buy in or else there’s an outlier who will soon be off to another team.

  • Tyler

    While their is no magic formula or even a one size fits all formula, it seem as long as you have a group that buys in to what you are doing, respects each other and is unselfish, your chances of having good chemistry are higher. The Spurs FO has done a masterful job of identifying and bringing in those type of players, probably better than any other team over the last 15 years. And it’s also that track record that gives me confidence in what the future holds for the Spurs post TD.

  • Tyler

    Steve Nash after PHX torched Utah last night:

    “We haven’t got the chemistry yet and there are no shortcuts,” Nash said. “It just takes time. You got to find the understanding and be unselfish and conscious of the other players on the team. But there is no easy formula.”

    Like just about anything successful, the success doesn’t come overnight – it takes time, and failure often times. And it’s through failing that you learn the most about yourself and your teammates. And I think it’s after a bad loss that you really find out just how good or bad your chemistry really is.

    As it pertains to the Heat, there’s a good chance they’re going to look bad early on at times. They’ll take their lumps, but if all the guys involved buy into the team, they’ll be tough. I think it’s safe to say they’ll be a much different team 20 games in.

    And from my perspective, I think all the guys in Miami have respect for each other – why would they sign up to be on a team with players they didn’t respect? We’ll see how it plays out. No matter how it ends, it should be good theater.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    October 29th, 2010 at 8:53 am

    “I don’t think that “great chemistry” really makes players better.”

    It doesn’t necessarily make “players” better, but it allows the “team” to perform better, particularly during times of adversity.

  • Jim Henderson

    Tyler
    October 29th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    “And from my perspective, I think all the guys in Miami have respect for each other – why would they sign up to be on a team with players they didn’t respect?”

    I don’t agree. Not disliking each other is different from sincere respect. In my opinion, down deep the Heat stars put themselves on another level as teammates. The respect for others, for the team, is more image than substance. Their respect for ALL their teammates is not nearly at the level of TD, TP, & Manu, and it may never get to that level either.

    Deep respect for other people is not something that can be manufactured by playing 2 or 3 dozen games together after a few months of being members of the same team. It comes from the player’s background as a person over many years, which is then harnessed together with others to accomplish a shared goal. That’s why the Spurs acquire “character” guys. The chemistry “DNA” comes from the innate strengths of the individual players’, and the coaching staff attempts to create a fertile environment for it to flourish. One without the other can prove to be a futile exercise.

    For example, how does this snippet of James’ history reveal that LeBron even has the basic “DNA” of respect?:

    “When LeBron James(notes) was running roughshod over the Cleveland Cavaliers, it became common for him to respond to tough coaching and differing degrees of conflict with the sheer shutdown mode. There goes LeBron, stomping off to the locker room with a staff member in hot pursuit to talk him back into practice. Come on back, King. We need you.

    James would mope back onto the floor, reluctant to be told that someone disagreed with his belief on a matter. The Cavaliers’ culture of enabling, letting things go and go, exacerbated these issues. James stayed in a cocoon of perpetual adolescence.”

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AilzeHnzHO8pxc5lw66GL6C8vLYF?slug=aw-heatceltics102710

  • Tyler

    @ Jim

    Like I said, it will take time. I think it’s waaaaaaay to early to write any team off, much less arguably the most talented in the league.

    But in terms of respect, we’ll just have to see. Eventually, I think they get it together, learn how to play with each other and win 60-something games.

    And if/when they lose, I don’t think it will be because Wade and James are incompatible. I think it will be because of the Heat’s lack of girth inside – Chris Bosh isn’t pushing anyone around down low anytime soon. And when you look at their two threats in the East – Boston and Orlando – that’s their strength.

  • Hobson13

    Tyler
    October 29th, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Tyler, I don’t think Jim was completely writing off the Heat, but it will be interesting to see how this group of Prima Donnas will pan out. I don’t believe that a person can go from being what James was in Cleveland to a team player/leader/role model just by flipping the switch. The fact that James would pout and act a fool when he was being coached makes it obvious why he has not won a championship by now.
    You are what you are and can change, but I believe that takes time and maturity, neither of which James has. With that said, I suppose only time will tell if James and company can come together and form a healthy team chemistry.

  • Dr. Love

    As a counter-example, I give you Kobe and Shaq. They won a championship together.

  • Hobson13

    Dr. Love
    October 29th, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    That’s a very good point, Love. I will add that they had Phil Jackson, perhaps the best ego manager in the history of sports. The early 2000 Lakers were an aberration in sports history largely due to Jackson (IMO). However, in the end, they underperformed. That duo with the best C and the best SG of their era, had they put their egos aside, should have won at least 1-2 more championships. Team chemistry (or lack thereof) not lack of talent was, in the end, their undoing.

  • Jim Henderson

    Shaq vs. James?

    There’s a difference between a huge ego and a narcissist. Shaq is a winner. James is not.

  • rob

    Overall talent might get you to a championship game…but the team with the best chemistry amongst themselves usually prevail as the winner.

  • agutierrez

    A sight that you will see after every Spurs game is TD waiting for every Spurs player to come off the floor and he will congratulate them. Here’s a superstar future HOF whom no one would blame if he just wanted to get his ass into the locker room, shower and head home. That he takes the time to congratulate them has to mean a lot and make them want to do better. That too lends itself to team chemistry which at the very least doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to win a ring.

  • Tyler

    @ Jim

    I don’t necessarily think James is not a winner. Let’s not forget, he did single handedly carry the Cavs to the Finals in 07, only to be destroyed by the Spurs. What if he faced PHX instead of SA in 2007 and won the title? (His game 5 performance against Detroit is one of the great playoff performances of all time.)

    Obviously, this is purely subjective label, but if being a “winner” requires winning a championship, there are a lot of great players, past and present, that don’t qualify. I forget the exact number, but only a handful of organizations have won a title in the past 30 years.

    I just have never understood that whole argument against certain players.

  • GitErDun

    I think LeBron’s problems stem from BBall things coming so easily to him, that he can’t understand why the same things don’t come easily to others.

  • td4life

    Jim Henderson–

    you got some splainin’ to do once you check out Miami’s home opener.

    And for all those folks that think that “one ball is not enough” — there are gonna be a WHOLE LOT of alley-oops whenever the Heat are in town. The key is still Bosh developing into more of a dirty-and-D guy, but I gotta say now that I looked over their roster for the first time, they got a squad there.

    A healthy Laker team can beat anybody this season, but the Heat are gonna be the more passionate team no matter who they face. Unless Bynum takes it to another level, the Lakers would need a HUGE series from both Gasol and Artest.
    It’s a 3 horse race in the East, and I didn’t like Orlando last year, and despite their additions I don’t like them ever, not with Lewis as their PF. Boston is tough though.

    Lebron lost a lot of fans with his rediculous “Decision”, but he’ll get them all back plus some, just like Kobe. Because people will be brainwashed by the hype and the spectacle, and will be seduced by the winning and the greatness. Sheep that we humans are.

  • td4life

    Hobson13, regarding your comments to Tyler about James’ maturity…

    I rooted against Kobe ever figuring it out attitude-wise, and it took him a long-time. But you are over-thinking this thing. Lebron is one of the most natural basketball players that ever was and ever could be. He’s just born for it. As complex as BBall can be, sometimes it’s just simple.

    If that’s not enough for you, I believe that all this negative analysis was heard, and will help him grow up. What’s more he’s got Wade talking to him, and a guy named Pat Riley. You guys act like he hasn’t always been known for his passing, and for having chemistry in the locker room. I know we hate this kind of Goliath, but Goliath that thing is, it’s just a question of how soon.

  • Jim Henderson

    Tyler
    October 29th, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    “I don’t necessarily think James is not a winner. Let’s not forget, he did single handedly carry the Cavs to the Finals in 07, only to be destroyed by the Spurs.”

    But his narcissism went to another level after that playoff run. Narcissism in a mega star kills a teams ability to win at the highest level.

    “What if he faced PHX instead of SA in 2007 and won the title?”

    “What if’s” are essentially meaningless. In effect they’re hypothetical rationalizations. In fact it’s more likely that Phoenix would have won that series.

    “His game 5 performance against Detroit is one of the great playoff performances of all time.”

    That’s an outstanding individual effort. Nobody is saying that James is not capable of amazing individual performances that sometimes end up in a big win. But you’re missing my point with this example.

    “Obviously, this is purely subjective label, but if being a “winner” requires winning a championship, there are a lot of great players, past and present, that don’t qualify.”

    Yeah, that’s not the label I’m using to define a winner. Nash is a winner, Stockton is a winner, Kidd is a winner……. It’s more about character, attitude, and a grounded perspective about oneself in relation to the game of basketball. And don’t get me wrong. There’s still hope for James in this regard, but he’s going to have to take a long hard look at himself. The world doesn’t quite revolve around LeBron. He has to come to terms with that, and do the little things that improves the chemistry of the team so that his team has a better opportunity to win in key games at the highest level. Riley, his young protege Spoestra, and his new teammates might be able to help James evolve in this regard over the next few years. But only time will tell.

  • mac

    The ugly truth is that that Miami team will have plenty of chemistry come playoff time.

    The even uglier truth is that they will have the biggest points differential in the league… a stat thay usually translates into rings. As a Spurs fan, I hate to see other teams build their identity around defense, and in that regard I don’t like the Heat’s potential, not even a little bit.

    On the other hand, we are undefeated and they aren’t.

  • Jim Henderson

    td4life
    October 29th, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    “you got some splainin’ to do once you check out Miami’s home opener.”

    It’s a LONG season. I wouldn’t read too much into ONE game. Miami did play well, feeding off their hyped-up crowd for the first time. And it was certainly a disappointing performance by the Magic. It reminds me of how they choked against Boston in last years playoffs. That team has too much talent to play that poorly against any team. They should incorporate either Bass or Gortat at the PF, and get Lewis back mainly at the SF. I also think they very well might have a problem at point guard. Nelson is not a very good fit in relation to the rest of that team’s personnel. They really need a penetrating PG. Parker would have that team in the finals, probably in his first year.

    “…..there are gonna be a WHOLE LOT of
    alley-oops whenever the Heat are in town.”

    But the number of “alley oops” doesn’t translate into championships.

    “…..now that I looked over their roster for the first time, they got a squad there.”

    There’s no question that they have the necessary basketball talent to win at the highest level, if they can learn to win in the playoffs without much size or talent at the center position. I have never questioned that. My skepticism lies primarily with all the intangibles. That’s still a work in progress, and has some inherent drawbacks from the outset.

    “Because people will be brainwashed by the hype and the spectacle, and will be seduced by the winning and the greatness.”

    But you’re already crowning them before the fact. That’s a common contrary indicator.

    td4life
    October 29th, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    “Lebron is one of the most natural basketball players that ever was and ever could be.”

    But I don’t really disagree with that. My contention is that no matter how much talent one individual has, it does not necessarily translate into being the consummate winner as a team leader at the highest level. That’s apparently where I disagree with a lot of folks.

    “If that’s not enough for you, I believe that all this negative analysis was heard, and will help him grow up.”

    Maybe, but at age 26 already, that’s far from guaranteed. He’s a grown man now, getting more fixed in his ways, and has had a good deal of success doing it “his way”. It’s far from clear that he’ll want to change bad enough to persevere and complete the necessary transformation. I like Spoelstra, but I think he’d have a better chance with Riley as coach for the “in the trenches” type of daily interaction.

    “You guys act like he hasn’t always been known for his passing….”

    What ever gave you that indication?

    …..and for having chemistry in the locker room.”

    That’s not chemistry, that’s being buddies with the players, some more than others.

    “…..it’s just a question of how soon.”

    How soon for what?

  • Jim Henderson

    mac
    October 29th, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    “The ugly truth is that that Miami team will have plenty of chemistry come playoff time.”

    But that is complete and utter speculation. They’ve only played THREE games together. The chemistry necessary to win a championship does not come automatically from playing 82 games together.

    “The even uglier truth is that they will have the biggest points differential in the league… a stat thay usually translates into rings.”

    While the point differential assertion is a reasonable guess, it is still clearly a guess. And there probably is a fairly strong relationship between large point differentials and winning titles, but unless you provide at least 10 years of data on that, I’m not sure how strong that connection is. Besides there are many other factors that influence whether a team wins a championship other than point differential.

    “On the other hand, we are undefeated and they aren’t.”

    Yes, but we have to play a playoff contender first before that distinction can be considered very meaningful.

  • spursfanbayarea

    Breaking news. Parker signs extension.

  • td4life

    Jim Henderson–
    I haven’t crowned the Heat anything. In fact, I have said the opposite. However, I do put them as very real contenders, if healthy, this season. And I’d say they are likely to win a championship within in the next 3 seasons, and that it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they do win it all this year. Now, if they do continue to excel on the defensive end, I may change my mind and call them the favorites however, as they aren’t far off. My comment about people bandwagoning onto “winning and greatness” wasn’t about the Heat being champions, it’s that they will put together winning streaks, and will be showcased heavily in highlights, and that the popular mood will once again be that be pro-LBJ. Once they likely do start winning championships (that is, barring injury), then that fandom will only escalate.

    Personally, I’m rooting for everyone else (not named the Lakers).

    I take issue with your criticism that others on this site are engaging in silly speculation and guessing, when you are doing the same.

    Oh, and mac’s line about being undefeated was an obvious joke, given the fact that we have played one game (and the Heat have played 3).

    I do agree that talent doesn’t always equal championsips, although it usually does, and I guess between the two of us, I give James, Wade, and the rest more credit than you do that they understand what it takes to win, and are capable of it. This summer was the worst of LBJ, but he is not the ballhog that Kobe has been. Also, he didn’t have to wait for Shaq to move aside to show his individual talent. I believe he got that monkey of his back winning his MVPs and falling short.

  • Bentley

    if you guys think that Lebron is going to change his narcissitic attitude, just watch his new nike commercial.

    he may win a championship before his career is over, but his atttitude won’t change as far as im concerned

  • td4life

    Bentley–
    Michael Jordon, Kobe Bryant, Shaq O’Neal are all extreme narcissists… that and doing it what it takes to win in a team game are not mutually exclusive.

  • Jim Henderson

    td4life
    October 30th, 2010 at 8:43 am

    “I haven’t crowned the Heat anything.”

    Perhaps I misinterpreted you, but stating things like, …..”but he’ll get them all back plus some, just like Kobe. Because people will be brainwashed by the hype and the spectacle, and will be seduced by the winning and the greatness…”, “I know we hate this kind of Goliath, but Goliath that thing is, it’s just a question of how soon.”, and …. “Once they likely do start winning championships (that is, barring injury), then that fandom will only escalate”, sounds a lot to me like you’re “crowning” them before the fact. You seem to be saying that it’s essentially inevitable that the Heat win a championship, if not this year, sometime in the next 3-4 years. I think it’s too early to say that a “crown” in this team’s future is virtually inevitable.

    “I take issue with your criticism that others on this site are engaging in silly speculation and guessing, when you are doing the same.”

    I speculate using history as a reference, and analyzing all the intangibles. I don’t engage in optimistic speculation about a “team’s” prospects just because they have a few very talented basketball players before they’ve even played a handful of games together.

    “I do agree that talent doesn’t always equal championsips, although it usually does,…..”

    No, talent “alone” NEVER equals championships. Substantial talent is always a “prerequisite”, but it alone is never sufficient. Look carefully at all the title winners over the years. Did they win just because of they had talent, particularly in their stars, or were there some other important factors that they had in their favor that had nothing to to with star talent?

    Why did the 1970-71 Lakers win just 48 games, and get bounced in 5 games in the second round of the playoffs?:

    West: 26.9 ppg., 9.5 apg., 4.6 rpg.

    Chamberlain: 20.7 ppg., 18.2 rpg., 4.3 apg.

    Hairston: 18.6 ppg., 10.0 rpg., 2.1 apg.

    Goodrich: 17.5 ppg., 4.8 apg., 3.3 rpg.

    It certainly wasn’t because they lacked talent in their top players. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Here’s a previous comment I made about this team/example from a recent thread:

    “Now how does a team with stars capable of putting up those kind of numbers lose 34 games in a season?

    For one thing, it was just Chamberlain’s second year with West & Hairston (one year he missed almost the entire season), and it was Goodrich’s 1st year with the other three. Second, they had a 45 year old “2nd year” coach (Joe Mulaney). And finally, when you have four players on a team with such dominant abilities the natural tendency is to over-feed these players (or more accurately, the four players over-feeding themselves) because that seems to be the easiest and most productive thing to do. But the problem is the other eight guys are pretty decent players, with pride, and they might have a tendency to get impatient in their more limited role. Now, this heavy reliance on top-tier players can work sometimes, with a very talented, experienced coach that possesses unusually good player management skills, particularly with mega stars and unheralded role players (e.g., Phil Jackson, Doc Rivers…). But the main point is this was a very talented team that won just 48 games, and got taken out in the conference finals in 5 games.”

    The Spurs have had some teams with great talent, but they would likely not have won all those championships without great coaching, “special, clutch, big game” role players, excellent “total team” chemistry, and dare I say it — luck.

    I’m just saying, talent is never enough. And the intangibles that the Heat may bring to bear are still very much unknown.

    Bentley
    October 30th, 2010 at 8:56 am

    “if you guys think that Lebron is going to change his narcissitic attitude, just watch his new nike commercial.”

    I agree. The commercial wreaks of it. But still, he “could” change, though it is unlikely to happen over night.

    td4life
    October 30th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    “Michael Jordon, Kobe Bryant, Shaq O’Neal are all extreme narcissists… that and doing it what it takes to win in a team game are not mutually exclusive.”

    I disagree. MJ, Kobe, Shaq all have very big egos, but there’s a difference between having a big ego and being a narcissist. Look it up if you’re not clear on the difference. James has shown a symptomatic pattern of full-fledged narcissism in recent years, MJ, Kobe, and Shaq have not during their respective careers. And yes, narcissism in your top leaders is incompatible with winning championships.

  • td4life

    [Defintion]“Narcissism is the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.”
    Extrapolating this definition to Bentley’s comment about the Nike commercial implies that the others whom Lebron is indifferent to are the masses, the fans, the john does, joe blows, and the cavs fan-nation, other NBA players, and even, in some cases, his teammates… irregardless of all that, Kobe, Shaq, and MJ are very definitely narcissists. All of them had to overcome their own rampant egotism in order to excel in a team sport to the point of winning a championship. Bryant in particular, while still clearly a narcissist, albeit less so, sabotaged chances to win in order to be the superstar scorer of the team and league. MJ did the same early on. However, they learned to appease their vanity by winning, rather than exclusively by scoring, which means that they had to tweak their play… my point is that I think Lebron is at that next stage and has a high enough IQ to win (rather than just dominant the ball and win scoring titles) regardless of, or even because of, his narcissism.

    Jim Henderson, yes, you did misinterpret me as you seem to think that when I talk about Lebron and Co. winning, and being praised as being great, and getting legions of fans, that I am saying that this is because he wins the championship this year… I do not have them as the favorites this year, though I have them top 3, but I do have them as plausable favorites two years out, if healthy.

    In a given season, the most talented team may not win the championship, but I can’t think of a case in NBA history when the most talented player does not win at least one championship, including West and Chamberlain.

  • Jim Henderson

    td4life
    October 31st, 2010 at 12:13 am

    From dictionary.com, this is a very basic, and more accurate definition of “narcissism”:

    “Noun 1. narcissism – an exceptional interest in and admiration for yourself; “self-love that shut out everyone else”

    You cited the opening line at Wikipedia, which does not do a very good job. Further down in the Wikipedia column however, they cite an author on the topic, and she captures the essence of narcissism much better, as follows:

    “Hotchkiss identified in her book, “Why Is It Always About You? : The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism (2003)”, what she called the seven deadly sins of narcissism:

    1. Shamelessness – Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
    2. Magical thinking – Narcissists see themselves as perfect using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to dump shame onto others.
    3. Arrogance – A narcissist who is feeling deflated may reinflate by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
    4. Envy – A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person.
    5. Entitlement – Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Any failure to comply will be considered an attack on their superiority and the perpetrator is considered to be an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
    6. Exploitation – can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
    7. Bad Boundaries – narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist will be treated as if they are part of the narcissist and be expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist, there is no boundary between self and other.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Why-Always-About-You-Narcissism/dp/0743214285/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1288551415&sr=8-1

    “Bryant in particular, while still clearly a narcissist, albeit less so, sabotaged chances to win in order to be the superstar scorer of the team and league. MJ did the same early on. However, they learned to appease their vanity by winning, rather than exclusively by scoring, which means that they had to tweak their play… my point is that I think Lebron is at that next stage and has a high enough IQ to win (rather than just dominant the ball and win scoring titles) regardless of, or even because of, his narcissism.”

    That is a valid point, however, I do think James’ narcissistic tendencies are more advanced, and capture his essence more as a person than just as a basketball player. MJ & Kobe were more consumed by the pure competition of it all — they hated to lose more than anything else. LeBron hates the “loss of attention & admiration” that comes from losing more than the losing itself. But as I noted in my last comment, whether James can come out of this overly narcissistic phase is still an open question. It’s not inconceivable, but in MJ & Kobe’s case, they had Phil Jackson. Probably one of the most special things about Jackson is his ability to transform an arrogant mega star into the consummate leader. So Spoelstra’s got quite a task in front of him. Riley will have to be unusually involved with his coach on these matters for them to succeed in bringing James around.

    “…..but I can’t think of a case in NBA history when the most talented player does not win at least one championship, including West and Chamberlain.”

    Well, if one were to look at league MVP awards as a measure of the top player in the game (and you usually have to be on a very good team to win an MVP award), there have been several over the years that have never won titles:

    Nowitzki
    Nash
    Iverson
    Malone
    Barkley

  • http://www.sanantoniospurs.com SPURS FAN SINCE 89

    Speaking of team chemistry; did anyone watch the hornets game last night? Well T.D. and T.P. had awful games so they were benched in the 3rd quarter and rightfully so. Well we could’ve used Splitter and De Colo to come into the game…………. Wait a minute I forgot they’re not playing yet. If Splitter is still injured then the Spurs are babying him along way too much. If we own the rights to De Colo when will we ever get to see him play???
    They won’t be able to just come into the lineup and have instant chemistry with the other players. The longer Bufford & Pop wait to use these 2 players the longer it will take them to mesh with the current players. Plus Timmy still needs help, and so does Ginobli obviously if he’s taking 11 3′s and only making 2 of them. I know it’s only 1 game, but when there’s only 82 in a season, with a possible lockout next season and your at home in front of your fans every game matters. If we can’t beat Nola at home how are we supposed to beat the Suns in Phoenix. Just saying…… these games do count. Plus I haven’t been too impressed with the defense yet.
    The Spurs on there last run to the conference finals in 08 were holding teams to under 90 points a game. So far the last 2 seasons plus this one, no. At least RJ is producing. I guess I can’t expect the big 3 to have a great game every game but I do expect other players to help and step up. Splitter and De Colo would’ve easily scored 10 points between them and then I wouldn’t be complaining and they would be 2-0 instead of 1-1. By the way does anyone know when Splitter will finally be let off his training wheels and get a chance to play?? What about De Colo will he join the roster this year?? I know we’re saving them for the rodeo trip.
    STILL BEAT L.A.

  • LuK

    A couple reasons I think team chemistry definitely is a huge advantage; are there not many team athletes among 48MoH readers? Team chemistry in basketball means the speed of reactions and having even instinctual knowledge of when and how players are gonna play. Being unpredictable means open passes and shots, and great timing on in-bounding the ball–crucial when you only have 5 seconds. Chemistry means knowing when a teammate will do an extra juke (TD to Manu turnover happened Saturday that way), push the pace or be expecting a fast-break pass…when the other team SEES and EXPECTS SOMETHING ELSE. How unexpectedly or explosively plays start and how recognizable a players intentions are all ingredients adding up to increased effectiveness, smoother play, and even more fun.

  • td4life

    Jim Henderson–

    “Nowitzki
    Nash
    Iverson
    Malone
    Barkley”

    There are major weaknesses in those guys’ games, and none of them were ever considered the best player of their era… some people wanted to believe that Iverson was, but of course they were DEAD wrong.
    Iverson– Ranked #1 all-time playoffs shots taken, ranked #2 all-time playoffs PPG (behind MJ), ranked #397 all-time playoffs FG% (397!), and ranked #167 all-time playoffs FG% among guards (167!!!).
    The case against Iverson was made clear when he traded teams with Billups, and the world got to see that Billups was the superior basketball player out of the two.

    As far as chemistry goes, Lebron is the glue guy on a team that, so far in this early season, is playing superior ball to our guys the Spurs.

  • Jim Henderson

    td4life
    November 2nd, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    “There are major weaknesses in those guys’ games, and none of them were ever considered the best player of their era…”

    They were all MVP’s of the league, some more than once. They all played for very talented teams that have gotten to the NBA finals. All are or will probably be hall of famer’s. How narrow do you want to make this list?

    “As far as chemistry goes, Lebron is the glue guy on a team that, so far in this early season, is playing superior ball to our guys the Spurs.”

    It’s WAY too early to judge chemistry & team performance for any of the teams, and I was never comparing the performance of the 2010-11 Heat & Spurs. So far the Heat have split against good teams, and beaten the crappy teams. The verdict is far from delivered on their performance, and team chemistry for this year.

  • td4life

    Jim Hederson–
    the list of “the most talented player in the game” is an extremely narrow list and the MVPs you mentioned are not on it, while LBJ is clearly in that conversation. Several of those guys you mentioned were liabilities on defense. Whereas Lebron is clearly capable on that end of the floor and plays for a team that is focused on defensive execution, which is virtually a prerequisite for winning a championship.

    Jim, I am rooting against the Heat for several reasons that I won’t go into again here. This despite the fact that I had been predicting Wade and James would join forces for 3 years prior, because I have long believed that they are a good fit (and truly formidable) together. Though few agreed with me. The guy I didn’t think either should team up with was Bosh who as a franchise big man, I believe, is a misuse of salary– though no one agreed with me. After the “decision” I believed the Heat would struggle their first year, but having seen the talent they were able to acquire, and having seen their play and passion, all I have been predicting is that
    ~ they finish with a top 3 record, and are better (if healthy) than ORL in the playoffs.
    ~ That the only teams that I think are really as good or better are LA and BOS, with Portland capable of being a so-called Cinderella if Oden comes back and delivers (it will also be interesting to see if the 3 Texas teams can fire on all cylinders and upset anybody this year, which I consider unlikely).
    ~ That MIA has to be favorites to win multiple championships in the next 5- 7 years, although the distinct possibility of injury to Wade could derail all that very easily.

    I do not believe, and have never believed, that psychology will be that team’s biggest foe, as it was with Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers in several of their seasons together… if psychology is the enemy, it is only because Bosh isn’t the rock that he ought to be. Lebron is not the problem.